Big Ten Links: Experts examine Bielema's big move

Tuesday’s shocking announcement that Bret Bielema was leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas dominates today’s daily links as writers examine why he left and what it means. Plus, Purdue hired a coach and Minnesota lost a quarterback. Read it all in my daily links.

And let me know what you think via my mailbag, Twitter, or the comments section at the bottom of the post.

Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Ohio State has lost a great villain with Bielema’s departure. And that’s what makes sports great—rivalries and villains, someone or something to rally against. Nothing galvanizes a fan base more—or fuels a rivalry better.

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David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News says Bielema’s departure is another indicator of the SEC’s dominance over the Big Ten.

Jones says Bielema’s emigration is an indicator that the SEC is where it’s at if you want to really test your wings as a coach. Yes, Urban Meyer quit Florida and a year later landed at his dream job back home in Ohio, arguably the two biggest-name coaches in the SEC (if one discards South Carolina’s aging Steve Spurrier) are both of Midwestern roots who settled at SEC schools — LSU’s Les Miles and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

And with Lloyd Carr’s retirement in 2008, Jim Tressel’s downfall in 2010 and Joe Paterno’s death, Bielema remained the single thread to a successful past that the league retained. And now he has fled to a South about which he knows nothing and where he’s never lived.

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Pat Harty of the Iowa City Press-Citizen thinks Bielema’s departure may be rooted in the need for new challenges.

You know, Bielema may feel he’s done all he can do in Madison, having guided the Badgers to three Rose Bowls in a row. After seven seasons, it’s time for a new challenge. But Harty points out: One thing is certain about Bielema’s decision; it doesn’t look good for the Big Ten when the head coach at one of your top football program bolts for a middle-of-the-pack team in the SEC.

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Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald says Bielema bolting isn’t a shocker.

Shatel says football coaches get into the job race for a few reasons. One, hit the lottery. Two, they’re in a mid-level job in their league and want to go where they can win a championship. Three, they feel like they’ve done all they can where they are and fans will soon demand more or become tired of them (see Kirk Ferentz). With Bielema, Shatel is betting on No. 1 and 3. Three straight Rose Bowls is a tough act to follow for any coach, especially the coach who went to the Rose Bowls.

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Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders if Badgers fans are happy now that Bielema is gone.

People beefed about Bielema’s Xs and Os acumen, and they said he struggled in big games and was sometimes soft on discipline. On and on it went. Now, he’s gone. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

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The great Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal says Bielema’s exit leaves questions.

  • Will Wisconsin miss Bielema?
  • Why did he bolt?
  • And, most vital: Who will be the next coach?

Could Pitt coach Paul Chryst be the top target? Maybe Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell?

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Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press notes Bielema’s move to the SEC will reunite him with ex-Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, who had—ahem–a bumpy relationship and is now an assistant with Mississippi State.

Flash back to 2010, when Brewster coached the Gophers, he was involved in a very famous incident at the end of a Minnesota-Wisconsin game. Up 41-16 with about six minutes left, Bielema’s Badgers went for a two-point conversion. Brewster went ballistic during the postgame handshake. The TV cameras caught him giving Bielema a tongue lashing-. His language was, uh, colorful, and lip readers everywhere blushed. Bielema’s excuse was that going for two was what “the card” said to do.

“Just tell him I said, ‘Welcome to the SEC,’ ” Brewster told Powers with a laugh. “Tell him if he needs any insight, any insight at all, to give me a call.”

In other Big Ten news …

Purdue landed a replacement for Danny Hope, tabbing Kent State coach Darrell Hazell.

Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal Courier says how the Boilermakers came to Hazell makes sense. Purdue A.D. Morgan Burke consulted with former Colts VP Bill Polian, who hired Jim Tressel last year. Hazell worked as an assistant head coach and receivers coach under Tressel at Ohio State.

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Staff changes? At Nebraska? Coming off a 10-3 season? Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star thinks that would be extreme.

Sipple says changes don’t make sense on a number of levels. Yes, the defense had issues at times in 2012, but the defense belongs to Bo Pelini, who gets help from coordinator John Papuchis. Is Pelini gonna can himself? And canning assistants doesn’t make sense because if coaches at Nebraska keep getting fired after 10-3 seasons, well, good luck finding high-grade replacements. Good coaches will gladly go places where a 10-3 record doesn’t get them a pink slip.

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Michigan’s Denard Robinson will conclude his career in his home state of Florida playing in the Outback Bowl. But he likely won’t play the position he came to Ann Arbor to play: quarterback.

Rather, he figures to fill a utility role at receiver/running back/quarterback he has played since hurting his elbow at Nebraska in October. And that may just help enhance his NFL stock.

“Hopefully, it does,” he told Kyle Meinke of Mlive.com. “Getting on the field is automatically going to help you. If you’re making plays, you can’t hide that. You can’t hide a playmaker.”

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Minnesota sophomore quarterback Max Shortell has opted to transfer. No shock there. The emergence of Philip Nelson as a true freshman in the back half of the season seems to cement him as the Gophers’ starter for the next three seasons.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Yes, that would have been a tough introduction.

My take: I think this sums up everyone’s thoughts.

My take: Sounds like Purdue got a good coach.

My take: This, ladies and gentlemen, is amazing.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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1 Comment

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Will on 12/5/2012 @ 2:57pm EDT Said:

BB leaving Wisconsin does little to diminish the BIG image in any way shape or form in my opinion. It’s not like he had built UW program but more like managed what was already in place for him.

Going down the article, I see the link to Sipples comment about why it would be bad for Nebraska to possibly make changes in (coordinators positions). Are you kidding me? Nebraska once was the model program that everyone wanted to emulate. Now, we are a training stable for coaches to gain experience because of the (good ole boy syndrome) they are friends of mine.

I am not saying get rid of Bo because I think he is a decent head coach and players love playing for him, but if Nebraska football was looked at like it was a business with Bo being the President of said business, his job would be to put the very best department heads in place to secure the best bottom line possible. How many fortune 100/500 companies do you know of that will hire 2 department heads ~ O and D Coordinators that had no prior experience and tell them that we want to build our business back to where it once was?

Nebraska needs to spend the $ to get quality coordinators that have the experience to draw from and makes changes on the fly if need be. Bo looked lost while talking into his headset in the CCG game, while asking his coordinators for some suggestions whereby he obviously got the feedback of “I don’t have a clue what to do Bo, what’s the book say to do?”